Eric D. Snider

Adam & Steve

The Adam and Steve of "Adam & Steve" first meet as gay, screwed-up 21-year-olds in 1987, when Adam (Craig Chester) is a goth kid and Steve (Malcolm Gets) is a go-go dancer and cocaine addict. They have a disastrously abortive one-night stand -- it involves both poop AND vomit! -- and go their separate ways.

They meet again in 2004 and don't realize they have met before. Now Adam is a recovering drug addict (Steve gave him his first sample on that fateful night) who gives bird-watching tours in Central Park, while Steve is a control-freak psychiatrist who will have sex with anything that moves and is male. They begin a sweet, wholesome little relationship together, working on each other's neuroses and falling in love. It's only a matter of time before they remember that night in 1987, though.

The problem here, in this gay screwball mediocrity, is that there is no problem here. For well over an hour the film (written and directed by its star, Craig Chester) is without a conflict. Adam and Steve like each other and have a happy relationship. Mild complications occasionally arise -- Adam must meet Steve's Christian parents, Steve must meet Adam's accident-prone family -- but these are treated not as plot conflicts but as setups for comedy skits, with everything resolved by the end of the scene.

If you're going to make a movie whose plot doesn't have a conflict, you'll have to work extra-hard to make the movie watchable. Chester does not do this. I don't doubt that he worked hard, but the film demonstrates a general ineptitude when it comes to comedy. Apart from a few snarky witticisms, the focus is on physical humor, and these actors, Chester and Gets, simply don't have the knack for broad slapstick. Most of it is awkwardly staged and lacking in the timing and delivery departments.

The film's bright spots are Chris Kattan as Steve's straight horndog roommate and Parker Posey as Adam's best girlfriend, a stand-up comedian who still does her old fat jokes even though she's not fat anymore. Kattan and Posey are comedy veterans, and their vast experience is evident in their performances. Viewed side-by-side with Chester and Gets' eager but weak turns, it's obvious what a difference experience makes when it comes to comedy. Posey and Kattan's subplot is a complete tangent, wholly unnecessary to the film -- yet it provides 90 percent of the movie's laughs.

Alas, 90 percent of not very much is still not very much. "Adam & Steve" has very little to say about gay relationships, romantic love, or anything else. It tries for cheap laughs, gets a couple of them, and whizzes the rest of them right down its pant leg. If you watch the film and then happen to run into it a few weeks later, you'll pretend not to recognize it and walk the other way.

Grade: C

Rated R, moderate profanity, a little nudity, some strong sexuality, a lot of sexual dialogue

1 hr., 39 min.

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